Politics Signs of dissension in Democratic ranks could complicate Biden agenda

13:19  25 march  2021
13:19  25 march  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

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Democrats may control Congress, but President Joe Biden's leadership of the congressional Democrats is in question even before his 100th day in office.

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera © Provided by Washington Examiner

Democratic cohesion early in Biden's term sparked gleeful remarks from the Left about Democrats not being in disarray for once — the opposite has become a political cliche because the party often is stymied by warring factions.

But with the passage of Biden's $1.9 trillion spending package Democrats contend was needed to deal with the pandemic, it is becoming harder for the president to keep his party together as he is tested by familiar and emerging issues.

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Political strategist Juven Jacob conceded there were always fissures between the branches of government but insisted Democrats are aligned "on a vast majority of the issues facing the country."

"President Biden has an ambitious agenda, and I have no doubt that administration will work closely with Congress to get things done," he told the Washington Examiner.

What Democrats do not address is how examples of Democratic dissension this week were exacerbated by Biden himself.

Democratic Sens. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, for instance, seized on Biden's own campaign promise that his Cabinet would reflect the country, jeopardizing their party's already weak grip on the evenly divided Senate.

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Duckworth and Hirono, both of whom are of Asian descent, threatened to pull their support of some Biden nominees unless the president boosted Asian American Pacific Islander representation in his Cabinet. The pair's demand was made after six Asian Americans were killed last week in the Atlanta-area spa shooting spree.

To pare tensions that have been building since his transition, the White House told Democratic senators during a Monday night phone call the AAPI community was represented in Biden's Cabinet by Vice President Kamala Harris, who has Indian heritage. They also named United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai, a sub-Cabinet official.

Duckworth, who was last year shortlisted as Biden's running mate, told reporters the next day the Harris citation was "insulting." She then vowed not to endorse any white Biden nominees unless they identified as being gay. AAPI advocates had earlier expressed their disappointment with the sub-Cabinet appointments, given the administration includes and excludes those members depending on the situation.

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Just this week, for instance, White House chief of staff Ron Klain tweeted Biden is "the first president in 40 years to win confirmation of all of his nominees for the 'statutory cabinet,'" after the Senate approved Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. But that overlooks Neera Tanden, Biden's dumped Office of Management and Budget director nominee, who also has Indian ancestry.

“We have the most diverse Cabinet in history. We have a lot of Asian Americans who are in the Cabinet and sub-Cabinet levels. Our Cabinet is formed," repeated Biden Tuesday afternoon.

But by that evening, senior staff had relented to Duckworth and Hirono and agreed to hire an AAPI presidential special adviser, aware of the narrow Democratic Senate majority and their reliance on the lawmakers' votes.

The other issue splintering Democrats is a familiar one: the surge of migrants crossing the country's southern border.

Democrats coalesced against former President Donald Trump over his tough immigration policies. But now that Biden is in charge, some are turning against him.

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The Biden administration is expected to encounter a projected 15,000 unaccompanied migrant children at the border this month, and federal government resources are buckling under the strain. But aides won't call the predicament a "crisis," preferring to refer to it as a "challenge" instead.

Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, an original member of the uber-liberal "Squad," contradicted Biden on Thursday, describing the influx of migrants as a "crisis." Tlaib's comments are among the first breaking with Biden after the group told its followers it would pressure the centrist president from the ideological Left.

"This is not an issue or crisis, I think, that's going to go anywhere," Tlaib said. "I mean, the last nine months, we continue to see these surges, these increases of these children coming across our border wanting a better life, and that is something that we need to figure out. How do we truly address that? Because doing nothing has consequences."

And Democratic Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar this week leaked to the press photos taken inside a crowded border facility housing migrants. The photos capturing conditions inside the facility in Donna, Texas, led the White House to release its own images of Donna and another shelter in El Paso. Staff also granted access to one camera crew to see inside a Carrizo Springs facility elsewhere in the state on Wednesday.

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Despite the discord, Democrats, such as Aggressive Progressive podcast host Christopher Hahn, claim the disunity demonstrates a strong party.

"Democrats are not the monolith Republicans often cast them as," the political commentator told the Washington Examiner. "These kinds of disputes are not unique and often end with meaningful change."


Others, including consultant Mike Nellis, contend Democrats "can handle disagreements and serious debates ... unlike Republicans, who are terrified of Donald Trump."

"What you're seeing is a healthy, political coalition working together to get things done," he said.

Tags: News, Biden, Biden Administration, Joe Biden, White House, Immigration, Mazie Hirono, Tammy Duckworth, Asian Americans

Original Author: Naomi Lim

Original Location: Signs of dissension in Democratic ranks could complicate Biden agenda

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usr: 0
This is interesting!